So I just got my first Venezuelan cards. I’ve avoided them for years because they tend to be way too expensive, poorly-printed, and really beat up. Plus most of them don’t offer anything substantially new (let alone better) to the standard US Topps cards.
Only the 1962s with their Spanish-language backs (also 1967 though those have the non-licensed feel to them as well) have called my name as an extension to my barajitas series of posts on SABR.
But a couple weeks ago a deal on eBay that was too good to pass up came by and so I picked up my first three Venezuelans. Was waiting for a while for them to come in but they arrived over Easter weekend.
I figured that while getting team sets of Venezuelans was neither cost nor time effective, starting a type collection made a certain amount of sense. So I have one each from 1962, 1964, and 1966. There are also sets from 1959, 1960, 1967, and 1968 but I’m in no rush.
Holding these in hand is sort of the opposite feeling I had when I encountered O Pee Chee cards in the 1980s. Where the 1980s OPCs were bright white card stock instead of the brown Topps stock the Venezuelans are duller and greyer than the bright white Topps stock.
“Sort of” because while this sounds underwhelming it’s actually not. The paper just doesn’t match what I’m expecting any printed material form the 1960s to look like. It feels either decades older or like it should be fragile newsprint and adds something evocative to the photos because it feels like they’re in danger of slipping away. As much as the Cepeda is the highlight of the three I think the Jim Ray Hart card is my favorite looking with the way the photograph still glows.
Back to the Cepeda. While it’s mighty beat up* the back is completely readable. One of the reasons I’ve avoided Venezuelans is that since my interest is the Spanish-language backs and so many Venezuelans have paper loss three. Cepeda has glue marks and is a bit off-register but I can totally read the Spanish.
*Recalling my suggestion years ago that card conditions should be like the Mohs hardness scale. If Zeenuts exemplify 1. Venezuelans would be 2s.
Despite all the extra empty space, the text is basically the same only (and surprisingly for Spanish) much less wordy. Stats are still using the English abbreviations but a careful reader will pick up the translations for rookie (novato), home run (jonrón), and RBIs (carreras impulsadas). Interestingly, outfield is left untranslated instead of becoming jardinero.
1964 and 1966 are essentially unchanged from the US releases. The only difference is the inks used. To my eyes it almost looks like they made the decision to print them using process inks—1964 going from spot orange to process black and 1966 from a spot pink to process magenta.
As with the Cepeda, no paper loss is very nice here and I can totally put up with the glue spots. Venezuelans are supposed to look used and well-loved and these certainly fit the bill.
All in all very cool. Plus this addition takes the number of countries I have cards from to nine (and the number of continents to six). In addition to Venezuela I have cards from the USA, Canada, Japan, South Africa, Australia, Germany, France, and the UK. I figured it would be fun to end this post with a call back to the oldest card I have from each of those countries.
My oldest US card (and card in general) is this 1887 Allen and Ginter card of Hawaii.
A set of 1899 Stollwerck cards would be my oldest German cards.
I’ve a ton of pre-war UK releases but my oldest are these 1901 Ogdens.
Not sure if Liebigs were released in France or just published in French but for a 1906 set I’m treating it as being a French set.
A gorgeous set United Tobacco made in 1936.
Only showing the back since the front is identical to Topps. But it’s never a bad thing to show off 1971 O Pee Chee’s backs. I have a decent amount of OPC from 1977 to 1992 as it functions a bit as a Traded set for my Giants team sets but not much more.
I might pick up more 1978s as part of my 1978 build. And I’m now considering doing a type collection for other years for the Giants album since I’ve opened that door with the Venezuelans.
Modern, well 1996, cards for the Australian League.
Sort of surprising to me that I have no cards from Spain since finding Barcelona soccer cards is something I totally would do. I’ve definitely had my eye on a few Xocolata Amatller cards before. I’m sure there are Panini stickers from Italy that would catch my eye as well. Plus some of the Dutch Gum cards. I’d also love to find cards from Mexico or elsewhere in Latinamerica but as always, I’d have to be caught by the cards not just the country of origin.
Addendum/edit April 26, 2022
So SanJoseFuji commented and reminded me about Panini Stickers. Unlike the other cards on here, these are intended for worldwide release and have back text in English, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, and Turkish. They are however manufactured in Italy so I’ll count them here. I don’t have many of these but I do have a couple Spain ones from 2010 when they won their first World Cup.
And this takes me to a nice round 10 countries worth of cards. Two North America (USA and Canada), one South America (Venezuela), four Europe (UK, France, Germany, Italy), one Africa (South Africa), one Asia (Japan), and Australia.
Addendum/Edit May 16, 2022
A pair of updates for my oldest cards.
I realized last weekend that my oldest Canadian card is actually this 1962 Jim Davenport Post Canadian card. Post already does a great job at packing everything you want on a card on just one side. That they manage to do this in two languages is even more impressive.
And I’ll add an image of the 1949 Menko to update the Japan selection since I mentioned it was in transit in my original post.
Addendum/Edit September 19, 2022
My oldest Italian cards are now Liebig’s 1925 Le Piu Belle Piazze d’Italia set.
Addendum/Edit October 17, 2022
An eleventh country as my 1935 Liebig set depicting Lhassa is from Belgium.
Addendum/Edit January 9 2023
China becomes the 12th country with a pair of cards from the 1934 BAT Hints on Association Football set.
And with a dozen countries as well as a few edits, it’s become time to stop updating this post and instead turn this into its own project page.